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7 tips for settling into your new home

7 Tips for Settling into your new home, blog post from The Organized Military Life

Our family moved into our new house in Madrid, Spain, about three weeks ago. We are slowly adjusting to a new house, a new city, and a new country all at the same time. It feels like we are living ghosts existing in a space between a new reality and our previous lives. While we miss the comforts of our old house and the familiarity of our old neighborhood, we are slowly adjusting to our new lives here. I would be lying if I said it was easy…we are so far from our comfort zone that it’s sometimes disorienting! However, little by little, we are getting into the groove of our daily lives. Here are 7 tips for settling into your new home that I recommend for military families based on our many PCS moves!

7 tips for settling into your new home:

  1. Explore your new city.
  2. Create a daily routine.
  3. Create a travel bucket list.
  4. Get to know your neighborhood.
  5. Set up essential services quickly.
  6. Be patient.
  7. Celebrate the little wins.
Ou new gate, very European. Pic shos a red get with lovely greenery growing all around.
Isn’t our new gate the cutest? So European!

Explore your new city

Moving overseas is A LOT different than moving to another state. EVERYTHING is different: the language, the fashion, the food. And while it’s exciting, it can also be overwhelming. As soon as we got here, we walked around Madrid, saw some of the cultural sites, tasted the local food, and got to know the local vibe. Although our neighborhood is more on the outskirts of this city, walking around the busier area really helped us to get a feel for our new city and all that it has to offer. Plus, the kids had their Spanish language lesson in learning the Metro and trying to read the menu!

New Sites to See

Walking around our new city

Create a daily routine

Another great tip for settling into your new house is establishing a daily routine as soon as possible. I will be honest; this is still a work in progress for us! JETLAG was way more intense than we expected it to be. It’s said that for every hour of time change, you have to give yourself one day, and that was really the truth for us. So here we are three weeks later, and we are finally feeling like we have our routine going. I am getting back to my peaceful morning routine and adding in exercise. We’re going to bed at a more regular time and trying to get up and going in the morning. We still have a few weeks until the kids start school, so I’m not being too strict about it yet, but having a routine is helpful in getting settled into our new house.

Checking out our new neighborhood pool

Create a travel bucket list

Moving OCONUS is exciting, and the opportunity for travel is incredible. Each of our kids has made their own bucket list of places they want to go. Having this as something to look forward to makes the changes a little easier, while so many things are hard. Even if you are not in an exotic location, check out places nearby and make a list of things that you would like to go and do while you are stationed there. If you want some great printable bucket lists, check out these pre-made ones from MilMomAdventures.

A Picture of the Royal Palace in Spain, one of the perks of living overseas as a military family is to be able to see beautiful sites like this
Royal Palace in Spain

Get to know your neighborhood

We shipped our car here, so while we have been waiting for it to arrive, we have been walking…everywhere. And while we have found it’s pretty easy to get around, it is August, and temperatures in Madrid are hot! I know my friends in Texas and Tampa will roll their eyes at this heat, but I will argue that this heat is comparable. However, the mornings are glorious, and my husband and I have been taking the opportunity to find new walking routes and get to know our neighborhood. We’ve found all sorts of little gems (Aldi! McDonald’s!), and we’ve met our neighborhood security guard (pictured below).

Dog on fence, he willingly acts as the neighborhood security guard
Our neighborhood security guard- How did he get up there?

Set up essential services as quickly as possible

So this one may be easier said than done, but get your services turned on as soon as possible. We have three teenagers (well, one is technically a pre-teen, but hormones abound, so she counts), and getting the internet was the highest item on our priority list. Funny story (that’s not that funny): within two days of being here, the kids had used all of our data for our international plan by streaming movies, social media, and talking with friends! WHAT???!!!!! I didn’t even realize they were doing that, but alas, all our data was POOF! Gone. Needless to say, we needed WIFI stat! Luckily, we got it set up as quickly as possible even though it was torturous for the one week without internet!!! So one piece of advice for everyone’s sanity is to get all of your services (internet, phone, electric, trash, etc,) going as soon as possible!

Be patient

This military life is not easy. Take a moment and breathe. It’s not easy for any of us. There’s a lot of cheerleading in the military community about staying positive and making the best of it. But sometimes, IT’S JUST HARD. There’s no embroidered pillow or cutesy saying for when your big kids are sad. There’s no award or challenge coin for the days when you really miss your friends and your old routines. In reality, it’s grief. You are grieving your old community and your old normal. Your kids are grieving the loss of their friends and the loss of their activities or schools. Your spouse is grieving their identity in their old job. The whole family is grieving, and it’s profound. But now, with 10 PCS moves under my belt, I know that with time it will get better. So hold your babies when they cry- those are real tears. Allow yourself to be sad and grieve what you left behind- those feelings are real and valid. It’s completely and totally normal. And if the feelings are overwhelming, please reach out. Believe me, your friends miss you, too, no matter how wonderful everything looks on social media. And if you want to drop me a line, I will listen. I’ve been there, I’m here now, and it’s hard. Give it time. It will get better.

Celebrate the little wins

While it definitely takes time to settle into a new area, make sure to celebrate the small wins! “I figured out the metro!” “I made a phone call all in Spanish!” “I got to my destination without having to use my phone!” “WE FOUND COSTCO!” While all of these things might seem small when you are in your comfort zone, they are all huge wins when you are in a new place. Call a friend or family who will give you a big “WAHOO!” or pick up an extra pack of galletas (Spanish for cookies) from the Mercado. You deserve it!

Moccochino: a celebration for a small win of living in a new country
Isn’t it pretty? A little reward for figuring out how to get around my new city

Who knew? They have a Costco in Spain!

So we’re making the best of it. We have no car, so we must figure out the metro, the bus, and Uber. Thank goodness we have Wi-Fi, or there might have been a pre-teen/teenager mutiny at hand. We’re figuring out the new grocery store and the new clothing stores. Appliances are different, as are door handles, closets, and even the keys. It’s exciting but overwhelming at the same time. Day by day, this will start to feel like OUR house and OUR neighborhood, but I know that will take some time. Hopefully, these 7 tips will help you to settle into your new house and help you start to make it feel like home. What are some things that you have done to help settle in quickly?

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14 Responses

  1. I spent 5 years in Germany as a military wife and both of my sons were born there – far away from family. One thing I really loved was the chance to travel throughout Europe by car. Every chance we had we would load up the car and visit other countries. My younger son got to visit Moracco even before he had his first shots. He was nursing so I was going with that got him some immunity. 🙂

    1. I love the adventure and all of the experiences of our military life! I’m looking forward to this time in Spain and we are planning to travel as much as we can! Thank you so much for reading and THANK YOU for your service as a military spouse. 😊

  2. Jana, I can totally relate to your advice. My husband was (until he retired) with a US Bank. We moved to 3 Asian countries – only once with children. The move is disorienting and it is more difficult than many understand even though they sympathize. We found it equally disorienting when we moved back to the states because none of our friends could relate to our experiences living overseas. Patience is so important and allowing the grief process to take place. Truly fabulous advice here.

    1. Thank you so much Diane. Moving is so hard for everyone, and goes right along with organization and decluttering. It’s all a process of letting go, but moving amplifies the decisions and the feelings in my opinion. And yes, it’s hard to relate to friends or family who have never moved.

  3. I greatly admire your resilience, sense of adventure, ability to feel and describe your feelings and focus on what’s most important. I’ve moved, but not that many times in my life. And each move was stressful. I like that settled feeling. So I understand how challenging it is to let go of what was and embrace what is, especially when your entire family is grieving.

    Congratulations on your wins, small and large. I’m sure as each day passes, you will find comfort and excitement in your new place. I wish you all the best. Sending you extra love and hugs as you find your way.

    1. Thank you so much! This move has been especially hard because the kids are older. I think sometimes as a military family you think that because you’ve moved so many times that you get better at it, and while some aspects of that are true it doesn’t get any easier emotionally. But, little by little we are finding our places here. Thank you so much for the virtual love and hugs. They are all very much appreciated.

  4. Wow, congratulations on your move! Your post is very thorough. I’m glad you mentioned setting up essential services ASAP. Sometimes, people forget this one when they move, especially when they move to a new area where their additional services are not nearby. Making a ‘to be set up’ list before going helps remind yourself what needs to be done when you get to your new home. We are all so stressed from a move that having a reminder on a piece of paper will keep us moving from task to task without too much upheaval.

    1. Setting up the internet was quite tricky! None of the processes here are as streamlined as they are in the States. I’m sure to a local Spaniard it all makes sense, but it has been a difficult process to figure out how to do things that seem pretty simple in the States. I’m happy my husband speaks Spanish, because I’m not sure my broken Spanglish would get us that far! 😅 Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. I really appreciate it!

  5. Wow, this is a huge move for you guys, but it sounds like you have a good handle on things.

    I really like your suggestions about exploring your new neighborhood and creating a travel bucket list. There’s so much to see in a new place, and it’s easy to think “I’ve got all the time in the world to do that.”

    1. I think we know that this is limited, which is good and bad! It makes you prioritize your time for travel and trying to see all the wonderful things that are here. Thank you so much for reading!

  6. I think finding out there is a Costco would have been a definitely happy moment for me!

    I love all this great advice. I especially appreciate your “permission to grieve.” It is hard to move, even when all the reasons are good and you really want to go. Change is exhausting.

    My niece is living abroad with her husband right now. They decided to sell most of their stuff and go for it. Her husband can work remotely, so they are actually moving around and “travel pet sitting.” This turns out to be a great option! You don’t get paid, but you can stay for free. Super fun lifestyle for this stage.

    And yes, get the WIFI going ASAP 🙂

    1. If I didn’t have kids, I would definitely go with the pet sitter abroad option! Ha! How fun is that? Thank you so much for reading and taking the time. I really appreciate it.

  7. Wow Jana, That’s a a big step for all of you for sure. The way you described it between exciting and grieving is definitely a huge step. While far from home and friends, enjoy every second of it and you’ll adjust pretty quick. Spain is amazing.
    Thanks for sharing your journey.

    1. Thank you so much Janet! I am so excited that we have this opportunity and Spain is such a beautiful country. We are definitely planning to see and do as much as we can while we are here, and I hope to keep sharing it out. 😊

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Jana Arevalo

Hello! I'm Jana

Hi! I’m Jana! I have been a military spouse for 18 years, and I am experienced when it comes to PCS moves, organizing new spaces, and creating more efficient systems for my family. I understand the feeling of anxiety and overwhelm that can come with clutter, and that’s why I love helping military spouses, busy moms and small business owners declutter and organize their homes, digital lives and paperwork!

I am an Amazon Associate as well as an affiliate with some AMAZING military spouse businesses. When you make a purchase using my links you are supporting my small business and I am so grateful! Thank you!


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